Leo’s Coney Island opens location in College Park
By Chris Skarnulis, Arts & Entertainment Editor
One of the perks of living in Michigan is the Coney Island restaurants. Coney Island, a popular chain of restaurant located in the northern United States, primarily Michigan, has spawned several successful chains. One of the most well known Coney Island chains, Leo’s, has over 50 locations in Michigan. The Livonia and Northville areas, and especially the Schoolcraft community are in for a treat. Leo’s recently opened its newest location on Jan. 26 adjacent to campus in College Park within the previous location of Zoe’s House of Pancakes.
Greek brothers Leo and Peter Stassinopoulous immigrated to the United States in the 1960s with the dream of opening their own restaurant. Both brothers had experience in the restaurant business, and in 1972, opened their own Coney Island in Southfield, MI. From there, it grew into a successful franchise, offering delicious American dining for an affordable price.
Leo’s is the representation of American casual family dining. Named after the popular Coney Island hot dog, the chain offers a wide variety of menu items, primarily American diner cuisine with a Greek twist. Menu items range from the popular breakfast menu to American classics such as coney dogs, burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads. The menu also includes Greek specialties, such as gyros and shawarma, as well as a section dedicated to healthy alternatives. All of the typical menu items and more are available at Leo’s newest establishment within walking distance of Schoolcraft.
Norman Ayash, the owner of Livonia’s newest location, couldn’t be more proud. Ayash, an experienced restauranteur, has been employed by Leo’s for over a decade and owns several other locations. Ayash entered the Coney Island restaurant scene in 1991.
“I’ve worked every position, from prep to cook. I gradually moved up the ranks to management and from there I became an entrepreneur,” said Ayash.
The positive experiences and hard work during his employment paid off, and motivated him to get involved in management.
“I opened my first Leo’s in Plymouth in 2006. After the successful years of business we had, I had it in my mind to open locations nearby each other for convenience to diners. My goal was to expand the Leo’s name and provide a family friendly dining atmosphere,” said Ayash.
In partnership with Ayash isco-owner Maher Ali. He also worked his way up from a cashier at Leo’s in Roseville and now has stake in his own restaurant.
Leo’s places community outreach at the top of their priorities when it comes to advertising. They find participating in fundraisers and charities to be both rewarding and a great opportunity to advertise their franchise.
“We’ve been actively involved in fundraisers with the community for years. Recently, we participated in fundraisers for the Livonia Police and Fire Departments. We hope to advertise to the Schoolcraft community in a positive way as well,” said Ali.
Leo’s Coney Islands have a family atmosphere, so employees tend to grow with the franchise. Stephanie Agius, who waitressed at Leo’s Plymouth location for 11 years, recently became employed at the new Haggerty Rd. location.
“My managers are very friendly and my experiences with customers has been positive. I look forward to bringing great food to the local community,” said Agius.
Leo’s is always interested in adding new members to the team and are happy to provide this opportunity to Schoolcraft students.
“It’s very simple. You can go to our website or walk in to any of our locations to pick up an application. Our managers would be happy to assist you,” said Ali.
Leo’s Coney Island is eager to serve the staff and students of Schoolcraft at their new location. With a convenient call ahead and carry out option for busy days, and 20 percent off of all orders for students and staff with a Schoolcraft ID, there is no better place to go.